The Hurry Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.
A GREAT FIRST IMPRESSION
Ohio State welcomed Houston St. Pius X four-star quarterback Grant Gunnell to campus for a two-day unofficial visit last week that left both him and his father blown away by what the Buckeyes had to offer.
“He loved every single thing about the visit,” a source close to Gunnell told Eleven Warriors.
The 6-foot-6, 212-pound Gunnell spent time with head coach Urban Meyer, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day and director of player personnel Mark Pantoni, and most of the conversation had nothing to do with football.
“They talked about his game and how he would fit, but they didn’t just talk Xs and Os,” the source said. “They really just talked about professional development.”
Gunnell, who is considered the second-best pro-style quarterback and No. 53 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, has all of the tools to be an elite prospect. After all, he threw for 4,936 yards and 61 touchdowns while leading the Panthers to the state championship game last season. It’s obvious he’ll succeed under center at whichever school he chooses. But Gunnell also wants to attend business school for sports marketing or finance and be set up for life after football.
That’s why the Buckeyes’ Real Life Wednesdays program struck a chord.
“They talked about all the different connections and what life looks like after Ohio State,” the source said. “That really resonated with the family. Grant is really interested in what the schools is going to do for him from a long-term standpoint.”
Gunnell — you may recall — decommitted from Texas A&M in mid-February, just hours after he picked up an offer from the Buckeyes. His relationship with the Aggies deteriorated following the firing of head coach Kevin Sumlin. His replacement, Jimbo Fisher, made it clear he wanted to move forward with a dual-threat quarterback, as well.
Thanks to family ties, Arkansas became a trendy pick for Gunnell — his grandfather played for the Razorbacks when they won their only national title and both of his parents graduated from the school. Oklahoma State has made quite the push, as well, thanks to the Cowboys’ high-powered offensive attack. And while proximity would surely favor both school over Ohio State, distance won’t play a factor in Gunnell’s decision.
Neither will the snow, which made sure to introduce itself to Gunnell during his visit with an inch or so around the Columbus area.
“His top criteria are relationship with the coaches, academics and getting on the field,” the source said. “Nothing else really matters.”
Gunnell is planning to take all five official visits spring — one of which will certainly be to Ohio State — with hopes of announcing a decision during halftime of St. Pius X’s Spring Game at the end of May. He may even take an unofficial trip to Columbus with his mother prior to that, too.
Once Gunnell makes a decision, he’ll shut down his recruitment entirely and become a leader in the class for whichever program he chooses. And based on what I was told by the above-mentioned source, I placed my 247Sports Crystal Ball prediction in favor of the Buckeyes this morning.
The quarterback turnstile at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center will only continue to spin in the coming weeks, though, as Monroe, North Carolina, Sun Valley four-star quarterback Sam Howell will take a two-day unofficial visit to Ohio State beginning this Sunday, March 18.
The news was first reported by Rivals’ Marc Givler and since confirmed by Eleven Warriors through sources within the program.
The 6-foot-1, 217-pound Howell is considered the fourth-best pro-style quarterback and No. 154 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he's thrown for 10,175 yards and 109 touchdowns and rushed for 2,229 yards and 43 scores in his three-year varsity career with the Spartans. He holds nearly three dozen offers from programs such as Alabama, Clemson, Florida state, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Oregon, South Carolina and Virginia Tech.
Howell attended a one-day camp last June — where he was joined by fellow quarterbacks Jack Miller, Garrett Shrader and Grant Tisdale — and finally picked up an offer from the Buckeyes in mid-January. He’s been in contact with both Meyer and Day in the meantime, and sources have indicated he’s among their top choices at the position, as well.
FLIP THE SCRIPT
Alabama was quite the thorn in Ohio State’s side last recruiting cycle, as it courted and played a rather significant role in five-star defensive end Brenton Cox and four-star quarterback Emory Jones’ decision to decommit — even if neither ultimately ended up in Tuscaloosa.
Now the shoe is on the other foot, as Lakeland, Florida, Kathleen four-star safety Brendan Gant told Eleven Warriors the Buckeyes are among the programs pushing hard for him to flip from the Crimson Tide.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Gant is considered the fifth-best safety and No. 130 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he recorded 26 tackles, five pass break ups, two interceptions and one tackle for a loss for the Red Devils last season. He committed to Alabama just days before Christmas over more than a dozen other offers from programs such as Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Ohio State, Oregon and UCF.
The Buckeyes offered last June, at which time Gant began building a relationship with running backs coach and area recruiter Tony Alford. Things tapered off a bit when the Crimson Tide entered the picture with an offer in October, but the recent hiring of co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Alex Grinch has reinvigorated the interest on both sides.
Despite his commitment, Gant plans to take all five official visits this spring and into the fall. Expect Ohio State to be one of them.